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New Hausa Mobile Feature Shedding Light on Unrest

Photo submitted to VOA Hausa mobile platform shows military preparing to deploy to Boko Haram camps.
Photo submitted to VOA Hausa mobile platform shows military preparing to deploy to Boko Haram camps.
Nigerians are increasingly turning to VOA’s new mobile platform for breaking news about three troubled northern states where a state of emergency has been imposed in an effort to clamp down on the militant group Boko Haram.

The new section on the Hausa-language mobile platform, called The Troubles in Northern Nigeria, includes reports from citizen journalists and local reporters in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, which have been under a state of emergency since May 14.

“We are providing Nigerians with first-hand information about what is happening on a daily basis in Northern Nigeria,” says VOA Hausa Chief Leo Keyen. “Through interviews with the Civil Society Congress of Nigeria, we report daily on human rights abuses and incidents of torture that would otherwise go unreported.”

“Our stringers are filing up-to-date reports, often by traveling in and out of the areas under a state of emergency, as the entire region is dealing with the shutdown of mobile networks,” says Steven Ferri, the Internet Managing Editor for VOA’s Africa Division. “The special section is also providing Nigerians throughout the country with the opportunity to discuss the events as they evolve.”

In addition to stringer reports, the platform regularly features photos of the unrest taken by citizens, as well as audio “vox pop” reports from people with first-hand accounts of the constant threat of violence from Boko Haram and other militant organizations.

The platform also invites mobile users to submit questions they’d like to see discussed at upcoming VOA roundtable events in Nigeria. “We want to make mobile users feel like they’re part of the conversation, even from afar,” Keyen says. “We’re also uploading sound bites from the roundtable events to the new mobile section.”

The first VOA roundtable, held May 13 in Borno state, focused on the effects of military intervention, and brought together representatives from the military and Borno’s government, along with local community leaders.

The most recent VOA roundtable, on June 6 in Kano state, included a senator, a university lecturer, religious leaders and community members, who discussed the effectiveness of declaring a state of emergency in Northern Nigeria.

VOA Hausa also plans to launch ‘virtual’ town hall events, where citizens can join the conversation in real-time, directly from their mobile phones.

VOA Hausa’s mobile site is now receiving an estimated one-million visits per month.